Valentine's day 2021: Countdown to the festival of love has begun as the much-awaited Valentine's Day will be celebrated on Sunday, February 14, across the world by couples of all age groups. The day gets its name from a famous saint, but there are several stories surrounding who he was. The popular belief about St. Valentine is that he was a priest from Rome in the third century AD.
History of Valentine's Day
Thousands of years ago, Romans used to celebrate the feast of Lupercalia between February 13 and February 15, in which men sacrificed a dog and a goat. The festival, which celebrates the coming of spring, included fertility rites (what does this mean) and pairing women with men by lottery, according to Britannica. Later, at the end of the 5th Century, Pope Gelasius forbade the celebration of Lupercalia and replaced it with St. Valentine's Day.
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Who is Saint Valentine?
Valentine was a priest who secretly arranged marriages by going against the order of Roman Emperor Claudius II who never allowed men to get married.
The Emperor believed that single men were better and more dedicated soldiers, but Saint Valentine did not believe in Claudius II's ideology. One day, when Claudius found out about the secret marriages, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.
During the time in jail, Saint Valentine used to take care of his fellow prisoners and also the jailer's blind daughter. Some reports say that Valentine became a good friend of the jailer's daughter and healed her from blindness also.
On the execution day, Valentine wrote a letter to the jailer's daughter and signed 'From your Valentine'. Valentine was executed on February 14, 270 AD. It is for this reason that this day is associated with love.
At the end of the 5th century, Roman Pope Gelasius officially declared the date of February 14 as "St. Valentine's Day." It wasn't until the Middle Ages, though, that the holiday became associated with love and romance.
Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s, commercially printed cards were being used.
The oldest record of a valentine being sent was a poem written by a French medieval duke named Charles to his wife in 1415. Charles penned this sweet note to his lover while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London at just 21 years old. One of the lines in the poem? "I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine." Swoon!
Additionally, in the 17th century giving flowers became a popular custom on Valentine's day when King Charles II of Sweden learned the "language of flowers"--which pairs different flowers with specific meanings --on a trip to Persia, and subsequently introduced the tradition to Europe. The act of giving flowers then became a popular trend during the Victorian Era--including on Valentine's Day.
At present, the day is celebrated differently around the world. Many Latin American countries know the holiday as el dia de los enamorados (day of lovers) or dia del amor y la amistad (day of love and friendship). Though couples exchange flowers and chocolate on this day, the holiday's focus is also directed at showing gratitude to friends.
In Japan, it's customary for women to give confections to the men in their lives, with the quality of the chocolate indicating their true feelings. On March 14, exactly a month later, men repay the favour by celebrating the increasingly popular "White Day."